Quite A Match: Dispatcher answers call to give officer a kidney - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Quite A Match: Dispatcher answers call to give officer a kidney

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – A good police dispatcher can be counted on to help an officer get through the diciest of situations.

Debra Ballard is taking that commitment to another level. Next week, the 24-year member of the San Diego Police Department's Communications Division will give up one of her kidneys to give an ailing law enforcement colleague a new shot at a better. longer life.

SDPD Officer Art Calvert, who for decades has suffered from renal kidney disease, has been waiting almost two years for an organ donor -- his third, including his mother and sister.

“She was a baby dispatcher. I was a baby cop when we both met. We are not tight buddies. We are more acquaintances. We had not talked in probably a couple of years. When she called out of the blue, I was just like wow,” said Calvert.

That call came to Calvert after his kidneys failed and he was on dialysis ten hours a day for four years.

“Several different people tested and did not pass. Then, out of the blue, guardian angel in blue came along,” he said.

After deciding she wanted to give a lifesaving gift to Calvert, with whom she once worked at the SDPD's Northern Division station, Ballard underwent extensive testing that ultimately deemed her an organ-donor match.

Debra’s kidney will be Calvert’s third kidney transplant. Both his sister and his mother had donated their kidneys, but did not work out.

Char Smith, Calvert’s brother, is his caregiver and was elated that Debra donated her kidney.

“You don’t have to be blood to be family. Debra is now part of our family,” he said.

Calvert said he will have his life back. “I’ll get my life back. I have a 15-year-old son, a 12-year-old daughter.”

The two co-workers are scheduled to take part in one final blood test before undergoing transplant surgery Feb. 7.

In explaining her weighty decision, Ballard said the nature of dispatchers' duties creates a kind of  "maternal instinct'' that makes them "just want to take care'' of people.

"As a spiritual person, I believe everything happens for a reason," she said. "If I can save his life, why would I not?"

Debra knows she can back out at any time, but should she need a kidney in the future, she hopes someone will be there for her like she has been to Calvert.

Doctors told Debra it will only take her a couple of weeks to heal before she is ready to return to work as a dispatcher.

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